The Emirates Lions won their big SA derby 29-16 against the DHL Stormers in Cape Town to end the Cape side’s unbeaten run, while the Vodacom Bulls returned to winning ways thanks to their hard-fought 26-13 win over the Jaguares in Pretoria in their Saturday evening clash.
In other round eight matches involving South African sides, the Southern Kings fought bravely in their 47-34 defeat to the Queensland Reds in Brisbane, while the Toyota Cheetahs succumbed 41-27 to the Chiefs in Bloemfontein despite an early lead of 24-0.
The big match of the day saw the determined Emirates Lions outscoring the DHL Stormers by four tries to one to earn a vital bonus point win. It was the first loss for the Cape side following six straight wins since the start of the 2017 campaign, and also the first time the Joburg side had managed to defeat their rivals on the famous DHL Newlands ground (although the combined Cats side managed a couple of wins previously). Their last visit to the Mother City, in 2015, ended in a pulsating 19-19 draw.
The Highvelders dominated the first half and scored three tries to one for a deserved 22-13 halftime advantage. The visitors shrugged off the early loss of influential young centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg, who left the field during the opening stages with a knee injury, while flanker Jaco Kriel was yellow carded and later cited for a late tackle.
The positive result leaves the Highveld team on 28 points from seven matches played thus far, two more points than Robbie Fleck’s team.
In the late evening match in Pretoria, the Vodacom Bulls shrugged off three overseas losses to grind out a much needed 26-13 win over the gritty Jaguares to register their second win of the campaign. Springbok flyhalf Handré Pollard played an instrumental role for the home side and the pivot kicked four penalties and two conversions for a personal contribution of 16 points, while he also initiated the opening try of the game.
The Toyota Cheetahs started the match in impressive fashion and scored 24 unanswered points during the early part of the first half. However, they failed to capitalise on that good start and the Chiefs eventually won the match in comfortable fashion following a successful comeback.
Earlier in the day the Southern Kings fought bravely in Brisbane, however, defensive errors saw them slip to a 47-34 defeat at the Suncorp Stadium. The Reds led 14-10 at halftime and the match came alive in the second half with both sides displaying their appetite for open, attacking play. The Cell C Sharks were not in action this weekend.
The weekend’s results:
Vodacom Bulls 26, Jaguares 13
Vodacom Bulls 26 – Tries: Travis Ismaiel, Lood de Jager; Conversions: Handré Pollard (2); Penalties: Pollard (4).
Jaguares 13 – Try: Gonzalo Bertranou; Conversion: Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias; Penalties: Iglesias (2).
Emirates Lions 29, DHL Stormers 16
Emirates Lions 29 – Tries: Malcolm Marx, Harold Vorster, Jaco Kriel and Sylvian Mahuza; Conversions: Elton Jantjies 3; Penalty: Elton Jantjies 3.
DHL Stormers 16 – Try: Dillyn Leyds; Conversion: Robert du Preez; Penalties: Robert du Preez 3.
Toyota Cheetahs 27, Chiefs 41
Toyota Cheetahs 27 – Tries: Francois Venter (2), Torsten van Jaarsveld, Raymond Rhule; Conversions: Niel Marais (3); Penalties: Marais (2).
Chiefs 41 – Tries: Toni Pulu (2), Tawera Kerr-Barlow, James Lowe, Hika Elliot; Conversions: Aaron Cruden (4); Penalty: Cruden.
Queensland Reds 47, Southern Kings 34
Queensland Reds 47 – Tries: Eto Nabuli (2), Karmichael Hunt (2), George Smith, Izala Perese (2); Conversions: Quade Cooper (6).
Southern Kings 34 – Tries: Makazole Mapimpi (2), Chris Cloete, Louis Schreuder, Masixole Banda; Conversions: Lionel Cronje (2), Pieter-Steyn de Wet; Penalties: Lionel Cronje.
Other Round 8 results:
Friday, 14 April
Crusaders 50, Sunwolves 3
Saturday, 15 April
Blues 24, Hurricanes 28
Rebels 19, Brumbies 17
Byes: Cell C Sharks, Force, Highlanders, Waratahs.